(POMPANO BEACH, Fla.) — A Florida sixth-grader who was captured on camera running away from an attempted abduction credited her family with giving her the tools to help her escape a would-be kidnapper.
“My family always told me what to do if this happens. … To run and scream,” she told ABC News.
According to a police report from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the 13-year-old girl, who asked not to be identified, was walking on the sidewalk in Pompano Beach, Florida, on March 2, when a man in a tan sport utility vehicle pulled up alongside her and asked whether she was on her way home.
When the teenager ignored the driver’s comments, he then turned the vehicle around and parked it, according to the police report.
“In a bold move, the suspect exited his vehicle and grabbed the girl around her waist as he tried to pull her into the vehicle,” the police report stated.
“He grabbed me around my waist and like wrapped his fingers around [mine],” she told WPLG-TV in an interview Monday. “I was, like, pulling his wrists, like, away from each other and that’s when, like, I guess, he gave up.”
She told ABC News Tuesday that her bookbag helped stop him from getting a good grip on her. When he let go, the driver then returned to his car. As she attempted to cross the two-way street, she said the driver then tried to run her over.
“That’s when I ran to my cousin’s house,” she said. “I was scared.”
Carol, the teen’s aunt, said the 13-year-old was frantic when she arrived. Carol knew to call 911 immediately just from looking at her niece’s demeanor.
“She could barely talk,” Carol said.
Carol said that the family had always drilled in the children during vacations and other outings that they should scream and kick if approached by a stranger. She said she had no idea those lessons would be needed so close to home.
“It’s just very sickening. … It’s heartbreaking to watch her running for her life,” said Carol, who watched the surveillance videos that show her niece fleeing her would-be abductor. “She did exactly what we’d been telling her to do.”
Authorities have released a sketch of the driver, which you can see above. They said he is in his late 40s or early 50s with reddish brown hair and a thin build. Police said the vehicle involved may be a Ford Explorer.
The teenager, who returned to school the day after the incident, said that she still doesn’t feel safe walking to school or going outside. Her aunt, who underwent surgery recently and is still healing from the procedure, now drives her daily. The teenager shared some advice to children and teens.
“Watch your surroundings. … Be careful,” she said. “If something happens, fight back.”
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